CIVIL WAR AND CIVIL PEACE. Libertarian Aragon 1936-’37 by Graham Kelsey (with an appendix by anarchist historian Eduardo Pons Prades on the failure to take Zaragoza — translated by Paul Sharkey) eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

KelseyCovercolour1Civil War and Civil Peace. Libertarian Aragon 1936-’37, Graham Kelsey. ISBN 978-1-873976-06-7. First published Cambridge 1985 by The Anarchist Encyclopaedia (an imprint of Cienfuegos Press/Refract Publications) This, second (revised and corrected) edition, published in 2013 (includes an appendix by anarchist historian Eduardo Pons Prades on the failure to take Zaragoza — translated by Paul Sharkey) 

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Civil War and Civil Peace. Libertarian Aragon 1936-’37  provides an overall vision of the situation created in the Spanish north-eastern region of Aragon subsequent to the military uprising of July 1936 against the legally constituted republican government of the Second Republic.   Supported by the majority of the paramilitary forces in the region, Civil Guards and Assault Guards, and joined by various hundreds of local right-wing thugs, the uprising led immediately to the collapse of established government, swept away in an orgy of detentions and summary executions in that part controlled by the fascist rebels.   However, in that part which was liberated by militias, organised in nearby Cataluña but joined by thousands of local Aragonese people, the rapid creation of village collectives, agricultural but often involving the complete panorama of village activities, led to the establishment of a genuinely libertarian regime inspired by the village militants of the anarchosyndicalist CNT trade union movement, the dominant socio-political force in the region prior to the uprising.   It would take another military ‘uprising’, this time led by forces of the Stalinist party (PCE), an uprising within the civil war, to eliminate the collectivist experiment put into place by village militants in Aragon.    This work was written nearly thirty years ago but, despite the enormous development of historical research, in particular since the start of the new millennium, by a new generation of students, it continues to provide a clear vision of the situation created by the uprising of fascist military officers in July 1936.

Graham Kelsey continues to work on the history of the region of Aragon in the 1930s and to intervene in local events and historical meetings, recently participating alongside various veterans of the collective movement in the excellent video Sueños Colectivos.  After many years spent interviewing several of the last survivors of that period he has various projects in preparation, amongst them a new edition of his book in Spanish on the CNT trade-union movement in Aragon during the 1930s, Anarcosindicalismo y el Estado en Aragon, 1930-1938, first published in 1995.

Antonio Ortiz Ramírez. (Barcelona 13 April 1907 – 2 April 1996). Carpenter and CNT- FAI militant; member of the”Nosotros” affinity/action group; Commander of the ‘Ortiz’ militia column, the 800-strong ‘Second Column’ which left Barcelona to liberate Zaragoza on 24 July 1936; subsequently, in 1937, he was appointed commander of the 25th Division of the re-organised Republican army. Later, in 1939, Ortiz and his comrade Joaquín Ascaso, former president of the forcibly dismantled Regional Defence Council of Aragon, became the intended victims of a murder plot connived at by prominent members of the national and regional committees of the CNT, including the villainous Federica Montseny and the union’s and ill-fated treacherous national secretary Mariano Rodríguez Vázquez (see ¡Pistoleros!3. The Chronicles of Farquhar McHarg )

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